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by Emily

I have to admit I am a little perplexed by the mixed reactions which people seem to have had to the show in Philly on Friday. This was the third show I saw on this tour, and the seventh time I have seen the boys since '85. There is little doubt in my mind that this was the band at its most potent; in light of the unmatched emotional intensity of the show, I find it a little depressing that people are obsessing over the length of the setlist or the show's running time. There is such a thing as quality over quantity.

The choices made with respect to the setlist were totally appropriate - doing away with Mysterious Ways and The Fly. The addition of Please (stunning, breath-taking) and I Still Haven't Found what I'm Looking For, What's Going On. There was emotional continuity to this evening like I had never before experienced at a rock and roll show.

They crafted an evening of artistry that was rooted in the sadness and rage of the current national moment; so many songs took on meaning that I had never heard before. The band's energy level was noticably more electric and relaxed than the two shows I saw in June(Philly 6/11 and DC 6/15). "Out of Control" was the moment when I knew this would be a remarkable evening (yes, the kicking of those water cups into the crowd.)

Everything was done with such poignancy and purpose; the encore was sublime, totally surpassing the unbelievable magic of the encore on 6/11, which to me, at the time, was one of the most moving musical experiences I had ever had.

I credit the boys with being able to convey so much, so sincerely and respectfully. There were countless moments of totally genuine expression of the confusion and anger and grief that we are all sharing. Because of our national tragedy, it felt like we, the audience, are more connected to them than ever before, and they to us.

As promised, we were elevated. But they also provided the soundtrack to our collective grief. The end of the show felt like a memorial service, with the band letting themselves receed from the spotlight in tribute to the lives lost on 9/11. A remarkable act of humility.

I shouldn't have been so surprised at the way the evening unfolded. They are the smartest, most generous people doing what they do. But then again, no one else does what they do.

Thanks, boys.

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